Ask LH: How Should I Apply For My Own Job?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m currently acting in a role that’s going to be advertised, and I’d like to score the position permanently. I’ve seen Lifehacker’s advice on acing job interviews, but I’m finding it hard to imagine how I can promote myself to people me that already know and work with me. I know I have to come at it from the mindset of them not knowing anything about me, but it is very hard! Any tips on nailing the application and the interview? Thanks, Happy Working For The Man

Job interview picture from Shutterstock


This is always a slightly tricky position to be in. We answered a question late last year along similar lines, so checking out the advice there is a good place to start. In particular, I’d point to our suggestion on what to do in order to establish your credentials:

The other crucial step you can take is preparing a report describing how you would improve and enhance the role. As an acting senior worker, chances are you’ve been following the exact processes used by your retired predecessor. That’s appropriate when filling in, but if you aspire to a permanent role, you need to identify how the job can be done better.

Taking that approach shows that you’re not merely expecting to cruise into the job because you already have it. It lets you demonstrate your understanding of the position (something that external applicants won’t be able to replicate) and shows that you’re keen to enhance the overall performance of the business.

In terms of your application, you need to follow whatever process is used in your workplace once the job is advertised. The one extra thing you should do? Inform whoever receives the applications that you will be applying for the role before sending in your resume and cover letter. Given that you do already work for the organisation, simply sending in an application would look slightly odd.

There’s also a slight chance that when you mention this, you’ll be told not to send in an application and simply to have a chat. I’d resist that. Point out that you want to be able to clearly show why you’re the right choice for the role.

As you suggest, you need to treat the application the same way you would if you were applying for a job with a different company. Read the job advertisement and ensure that your cover letter addresses the key issues that it mentions, and craft your resume to highlight relevant skills. Your inside knowledge means you’ll be able to answer the criteria in a more detailed way than external applicants, but don’t skip on explaining why you’d suit the role and the company culture.

In terms of interview preparation, the same principle applies: prepare in the same way as you would if applying for an entirely new role. It’s possible that your interview will be much more informal, especially if it’s your immediate supervisor. But it’s also possible that you’ll be interviewed by someone you don’t know well at work, and in those circumstances being fully prepared is the only sensible strategy. Yes, it’s bound to feel a little odd, but ultimately your career is at stake.

If readers have additional advice, we’d love to hear it in the comments. Good luck!


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